In this issue
At a recent European family office conference, a member of the audience asked me what would be the best investment for a family of wealth. I responded that if she meant a truly long-term investment with a 50- to 100-year horizon, I would rely on the advice of a wise old American friend of mine. The best investment, he said, would be farm real estate in a common-law jurisdiction with a good recording system, such as the U.S., Canada or Australia.
About 210 attendees, representing 60 families, came to the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa in San Diego for Transitions West 2013, the seventh conference presented by Family Business Magazine and Stetson University’s Family Enterprise Center. The theme of the conference, which took place November 13-15, was “Family Business Dynamics and the Dynamic Family Business.”
Shareholders in family companies frequently come into conflict as the company grows, the shareholder mix changes, generations succeed each other, outside investors appear and non-family professional managers are hired. The biggest divergence of interest develops between shareholders who actively participate in the management of the company (“insiders”) and those who do not (“outsiders”).
Not every family names their company after their dog. But the Cohn family, founders of Sage Financial Group, are closer than most families. The golden retriever they dearly loved became their firm’s namesake. Established in 1989 by David Cohn and his sons Alan and Stephen, Sage has gone through several stages, each one a building block for the next.
One of those stages brought Sage considerable national attention.
Schuette Markets, which employs about 140 people at five locations in rural southern Illinois, celebrated its 150th anniversary in October. The fifth generation coming on line at the company is all female. President Michael Schuette, 64, says his daughters bring a new perspective. They have expanded marketing efforts to include social media.
German immigrant Peter Schuette founded the company in 1863 amid the turmoil of the Civil War. It began as a trading post bartering locally sourced goods; by 1870, it had evolved into a general store.
Marquette, Mich. (population 21,532), on the shore of Lake Superior, is seven to eight hours from Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis, and three-and-a-half from Green Bay. The 127-year-old Getz’s Clothiers, based in downtown Marquette, has been able to thrive in this remote location because of its online marketplace.
Robert “Rock” Getz, 62, grandson of founder Louis Getz, owns the business with his wife, Carol; their daughter Tina Young; and Rock’s cousin Richard Caden, 73.
Generation of family ownership: 76th.
Company description: HRH Group of Hotels is India's largest and only chain of Heritage Palace-Hotels and Resorts under private ownership. (Several were once royal retreats.) There are ten of them.
Number of employees: More than 1,500.
Is there a future for family owned newspapers? Will newspapers even exist in the future?
The New Year customarily brings resolutions and renewed optimism for the coming months. The highlight of my 2014 is the expansion of our family. Both our daughters-in-law have announced pending births—one this month and another around Mothers’ Day. What a tremendous blessing this is! One daughter-in-law has revealed that a little girl is on the way. Gender, of course, is not important to me as long as the babies are healthy. And certainly with respect to working in our family business, gender will not be an impediment for this next generation.